Failure Does Not Define Us

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Failure Does Not Define Us

Over the past decade of equipping people, teams and organizations in discovering and developing their strengths, talents and gifts I am always amazed at the amount of individuals that feel trapped in life. Undoubtedly, the conversation we have comes back to a feeling of significance.

At the end of the day we all long to do something that matters…that changes and affects this beautiful and broken world we inhabit.

So many of us, though, are grinding it out without passion or the ability to use our strengths for the greater good.  We may feel stifled, trapped and even hopeless. Quitting may be the quick fix, but there’s a better way forward.

I wrote The Four Work Styles™ to lay out a simple framework to offer direction and language to those out there in need of clarity that think leadership is for everyone else. The truth is we all have the raw materials to impact and influence others in meaningful ways.

Leadership is about relationships – whether it’s a business deal with a client or a conversation with a family member – our ability to understand and appreciate  each others’ individual uniqueness and perspective is paramount to living a fulfilled life.

Here are a few things to remember…

We don’t need to jump ship to have an adventure. In fact, most of life isn’t sexy or glamorous…it’s difficult, trying and routine. We can learn and grow from adapting to our current environments and changing our perspective to appreciate what is happening in this moment.

Every day is a gift. Every 24 hours we get a new opportunity to impact and influence those around us. Like a blank canvas, the sun will set tonight and rise again tomorrow giving us a restart and second chance to see the good in and around us.

Character isn’t developed in a vacuum. Who we are becoming is a journey that takes a lifetime. When we persevere we change and grow and develop the wisdom and experience to handle the peaks and the valleys that will inevitably come our way.

Gratitude is the best remedy for a hopeless heart. Taking a few moments to physically write down the good, true and beautiful in our lives frees us from the grip of apathy. The fact that we have a job to feel trapped in should give us pause and a sense of thankfulness.

We are not alone. All of humanity has lost heart at some point. The best of us choose to fight for the good of others, and know that the world needs us to do so. Our lives are one verse in the epic story of human history.

Failure is a comma not a period. Burnout, beat-up and broken down we may limp away from a failed relationship, job or environment, but we will be better equipped to follow our hearts…thoughtfully. Our ability to see the potential in ourselves and others will determine our success.

Failure does not define us, it refines us. I am convinced that this journey of self-awareness is one that every leader must take. The Four Work Styles™ is designed as a roadmap and resource to get us there.

The Four Work Styles

Be honest, be you.



© 2006-2014 Stephen Knox, All Rights Reserved


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